Page images
PDF
EPUB

THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD.

3

overtaken the slaves were put ashore and house that Eliza Harris, of Uncle Tom's piloted to one of the stations not far Cabin fame, was concealed and remained removed from the canal, and there were until she was entirely restored to health. a number of these along the line in Mary- Frederick Douglass was several times a land and West Virginia (then Virginia). visitor to the central station, but he likeThese stations were simply the homes of families either stockholders in the Underground Railroad or those who had been paid liberally for utilizing their homes and premises for such purposes. One of these stations is still in a fair state of preservation on the outskirts of Martinsville, West Va., while along the line of the canal and the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad there are a number of frame and log houses which are pointed out as Underground Railroad stations.

Levi Coffin, one of the presidents, and who was a very wealthy man, lived at

LEVI COFFIN'S HOME- CENTRAL STATION" Fountain City, Ind., and his home was

NEAR FOUNTAIN CITY, IND. the central station between the South and Canada. For a number of years Coffin was wise visited other stations and was slated on duty at Cincinnati, Ohio, as a sentinel, as one af the general supervisors. and did effective work in aiding fugitive Perhaps next to John Brown, Seth Conckslaves. He left the management of his lin, a Quaker of Philadelphia, was the most home-central station—to his wife, who ardent worker in the cause of liberating received and cared for more than 5,000 slaves. Like Brown, too, he exercised slaves. Coffin's home was the meeting exceeding bad judgment, going to Alabama, place for abolitionists in that section of the and spiriting away a negro woman and country, and to-day it is the one point of three children, making a successful escape historic interest in the little Indiana village. with them to Vincennes, Ind., where he The building is brick, two stories high, was arrested and was afterwards found with large rooms and several good-sized dead, having been killed and placed in the secret closets, and a basement difficult to water: find one's way out of. Then, too, the Another sentinel who fared badly was attic is so arranged that it would not be an S: A. Smith, he having boxed up a negro easy matter for one not thoroughly familiar boy, named Henry Brown, at Richmond, with the construction of the house to either Va., and sent him by express to the headenter or get out of. 'The house was built

quarters in Philadelphia. The Richmond in 1828, five years before the organization authorities gave Smith seven years in the of the Underground Railroad, but Coffin state penitentiary. About the same time evidently had an idea of the purpose to a negro, named Jack Christian, fell in with which it would be put when he had it the underground agents and left his home constructed. It is said that it was in this in the family of ex-President Tyler.

Christian had been one of the White House servants during Tyler's administration. Another negro, named William Jones, was shipped in a box from Baltimore to Philadelphia, and he came near losing his life, the box being delayed in shipment and the fugitive slave was three days without water or food.

Careful nursing brought him around and then he went into the field to aid others.

Samuel Burriss, a colored general conductor, made a narrow escape at Louisville,

Ky., while trying to help out some Blue A "STATION” IN THE VIRGINIA VALLEY. Grass darkies in getting freedom. He

[graphic]
[ocr errors]
[graphic]
[blocks in formation]

..

a

managed to escape to Cincinnati, and from too, that some of these abolitionists were there went to Dover, Del., where he was abolitionists for revenue only. They smugcaught red-handed in his work.

After a

gled away negroes and then sold them trial he was convicted and sent to prison, again. Virginia dealt severely with aboliand then advertised for sale. The officials tionists. Some of them were nothing more were posted as to the general conductor's than a lot of border rascals and didn't care predicament and sent a trusty in the guise

a tinker's darn for the poor negro. These of a slave trader to buy him. In this they out-for-the-revenue abolitionists worked as were successful, but the sum paid was far a close corporation, and when a negro in excess of the value of “a likely negro. crossed the Potomac he did so with full

Perhaps no man is better posted on the directions as to where to stop; was told work of the l'nderground Railroad and its just where and how to find the stations work in Maryland and Virginia than is along the line through Maryland and westCaptain James Webster, who has been the ern Virginia and into Pennsylvania, where chief of police of Alexandria, Va., for they would be safe. At the same time almost a half century. He says:

these border abolitionists had things ar“I have a very distinct recollection of ranged so that the negroes would be capthe work of the Underground Railroad, and tured by their co-workers. The genuine especially as it relates to the old Chesapeake abolitionists, the earnest, faithful workers, & Ohio Canal. From 1830 to 1860 our coal had a hard road to weed in steering clear trade was heavy over the canal, it being of these imposters. However, they manbrought here from Cumberland and then aged to land high and dry many a slave by loaded on vessels for shipment to Northern the old canal route. We were so near the ports. The Underground Railroad officials dead-line of freedom here that most of our soon realized that this canal offered excep- slave holders were kept so constantly tional advantages for smuggling negroes

worried about their slaves that they were North. These slaves were brought in from really glad when the emancipation proclaall points along the canal on the boats and mation was issued. It got to that point then smuggled on the big vessels going where it was more trouble and more expense North. So frequent did slaves disappear to keep a negro safe than he or she was worth. that, in 1844, the legislature passed an act:: “The old Underground Railroad did a providing that all vessels should be sežrched Fushing business for many long years, and by officers appointed to the purpose before it was not an infrequent thing in the days they left this port. A niajority of the before the war to hear people call the masters were abolitionists and are båd çoon- Chesapeake & Ohio Canal the l'nderground siderable trouble with timp licadas : Railroad."

trin:

66

a

[ocr errors]

WIZARD CLIP.

H

ISTORIC "Wizard Clip,“ only a few

miles from Kerneyville, on the main
line of the Baltimore & Ohio Rail-

road, in Jefferson County, W. Va., has had another attack of ghosts and spooks and the queer and mysterious carryingons are calculated to make shaky the strongest nerves of the natives.

This section of the beautiful Shenandoah has had its full quota of ghosts since the days of Generals Charles Lee, Horatio Gates, William Darke and Adam Stephen, all of whom lived in this immediate locality. Repeatedly it has been declared that the ghosts of these departed warriors have appeared in almost every imaginable form,

but that in late years they have behaved very becomingly. The last appearance of these "things" being a fox hunt by the eccentric Gen. Charles Lee.

But the ghosts have appeared this time as mysterious stone throwers and have kept in a state of fear and alarm the family of Mr. Hiram Swindley, one of the most reputable planters of this county. The gentleman lives in a two-story house between Wizard Clip and Summit Point, which is almost in the heart of the valley and fully ten miles from high hills or mountains. There are no near-by neighbors and Mr. Swindley and his family are on the best of terms with everyone in this section.

[blocks in formation]

a

66

run”

There is no cause to believe that anyone has a grievance against the Swindley's and have a desire to make life miserable for them.

Notwithstanding these pleasant relations the heretofore happy home of Mr. Swindley is anything but pleasant and comfortable now, for during several weeks the residence has been mysteriously stoned, smashing window panes and doing other damage. A stone struck Mrs. Swindley a few weeks ago and made a painful wound, but other members of the family have so far escaped. The heretofore contented and happy family now live in fear of having their house entirely destroyed, for every effort has been made to detect the source of annoyance and danger, but without avail. The neighbors and friends of Mr. Swindley have joined in the watch both day and night, but the stones continue to come at intervals in perfect showers. The mystery is added to by the fact that the house is in the open and there is no place where the stone throwers could conceal themselves. There being no mountains or hills within miles, it is certain that the stones cannot come from them. Another peculiar fact is that many of the stones which have been thrown on and in the house are not of the same finty character as those in this section.

Many of the best people of the valley have visited the home of Mr. Swindley to witness the shower of stones and to aid him if possible in detecting from whence they come. If the annoyance continues it is safe to assert that a splendid country home will be offered for sale. Old people here say that they have never known of anything so bad as this, but they tell that “mother and father went through worse than this,” when it was not safe for anyone to go to Smithfield, now known by this name as well as Clip and Middleway, letters coming to the office addressed to all three names.

It is claimed that many years ago a man named Adam Livingston, a native of Pennsylvania, settled at Smithfield, buring a tract of 125 acres, and proceeded to make himself a comfortable home. One day a stranger appeared at the Livingston home and was taken in as a boarder until he could regain his health. The boarder, so the natives say, became very ill and asked that a priest be sent for, Mr. Livingston, who was strong in the Protestant faith, told the sick man that no Catholic priest could enter his house; that if it required the services

and presence of a priest to save him from a warmer climate, he was afraid he might as well make up his mind to land flat-footed in that torrid zone. The dying man begged piteously but to no purpose, for the Pennsylvanian was steadfast, and the last breath of the faithful Catholic was a plea that a priest be sent for. A man, named Jacob Foster, sat up with the corpse, but found it impossible to keep a light in the room, the candles—then called tallow dips-Hickering, Haring and dying out just so soon as they were lighted. The refusal of the candles to furnish light was the first signs of anything unusual, but this was accounted for by a supposition that salt had got in the tallow before the tallow dips were (molded). Next day the stranger was buried in the country churchyard, and that night there were all kinds of queer doings in the Livingston home. Crockery and glassware fell from the cupboard and smashed on the floor; the old wooden churn danced the Virginia Reel over the floor; the bed clothes were torn and cut to frazzles: bridles, saddles and harness were cut and ripped ; plow lines twisted and tied in a hundred knots; and many other just such things. The following night great stones rolled down the massive stone chimney and cavorted around the room. These manifestations continued, and Mr. Livingston had a “vision,” in which he was told that he must see a man in robes and that this robed man would stop the strange proceedings. Without delay Mr. Livingston pulled out for Winchester and sought Rev. Alex Balmaine, an Episcopal minister. Rev. Balmaine convinced the thoroughly frightened man that he was not the robed individual he had seen in his vision and that he was not in the business of removing “spells,” ghosts, and things of like nature. Then Mr. Livingston hurried to Shepherdstown and saw Father Cahill, the Catholic priest who was in that missionary field. Father Cahill, so the story goes, went to the home of Mr. Livingston and stopped the ghostly programme for a while. When everything was moving along in a quiet manner Mr. Livingston believed he was on safe ground and began a tirade against the Catholics, abusing the dead and the living. Then his troubles returned tenfold in even worse form than before he had seen the priest, and he was finally compelled to vacate the house. The farm is now known as “Priestfield."

a

CAVES OF REFUGE.

SOME UNIQUE REMINDERS OF WAR TIMES IN MISSISSIPPI.

A

a

FTER a campaign of six months dur- these with us as mementoes of the scrap,

ation and nearly two months vigor- but, by jingo, after all these years, Uncle ous siege, the confederate batteries Sam—and I'm on good terms with him

of Vicksburg, Miss., which had now—has come along and swiped up the attempted to rob a nation of the most last remaining cave and it is included in majestic river on the globe, fell, and the the National Park. Right glad I am, too, Mississippi was thrown open for the unre- for I feel that it will never be entirely destricted commerce of the United States stroyed so long as it has 'Government profrom Cairo to the Gulf, on the fourth day of tection.' July, 1863.

“Naturally, we old fellows who ‘fit, bled The total loss of General Grant's army and died for the Lost Cause' have a tender during the campaign has been placed at place in our hearts for these things, but about 9,000, while the confederates lost one by one we have seen them done away 37,000 prisoners, including fifteen general with by the onward march of progress and officers; more than 10,000 men were killed; improvement of our thriving city. As the

city builded and extended, these caves and hiding places disappeared, as did the fortifications and entrenchments, and now our neighbor and friend the once hated Yankee—can have pointed out to him this one large cave as the home of families who took refuge in its dark caverns during the days they were throwing shot and shell into us. It was here that a young daughter insisted that her piano should be brought, and it was, serving as a bed at night and a table at meal time. On this same old piano a child was born and another winged its fight to another world. But, my! my! what tales of history, romance, self-sacrifice, pleasure, pair.—everythingthese walls of the old cave could tell if they could only talk. In this underground home there have been few changes made since the sad days of '63. It's owner, Mr. Lewis, has seen that it was cared for and

has steadfastly refused to let it go into and arms and munitions of war for an army other hands until it was determined to of 60,000 men, together with public prop- include it in the National Park. The old erty consisting of railroads, locomotives, cannon balls and shells which were placed cars, steamboats, cotton, etc., fell into the at its entrance many years ago have rehands of the victors.

mained undisturbed, even relic hunters not “My friend, the enemy simply had us daring to cart them away. by the seat of the 'britches, " said an old way to the main cave is about 3 feet wide confederate at Vicksburg. “They gave us and 12 feet long, but after getting into a hard fight, but at the same time we kept the main room, about 12 x 16 feet, you them down to their knitting for six long can easily see how easy it was to live in months, and if we had'nt run so devilish this underground home. A gentleman now shy on grub we might have been fighting living in Vicksburg has a number of articles yet. But, as I say, they wiped us out, and of furniture and cooking utensils which about all that we had left was these cellars were used in the cave in those days, and and caves around here, where the timid among them is a pair of candle molds which fellows, old men, women and children took were used for making the 'tallow dips' for refuge during the siege. The boys left lighting the place. Of course it

[graphic]

A CAVE OF REFUGE.

The passage

a

а

was

THE SHIFTING OF LANDMARKS AT WASHINGTON, D. C.

7

necessary to do most of the cooking outside and children would have starved had it not of the cave, as there was no outlet for the been for the faithful slaves who would go smoke except the entrance or passage way.

out ‘foraging' for them.

A negro would But, neighbor, cooking didn't worry our steal anytime before he would see his good wives and daughters and slaves much 'white folks' suffer for something to eat. in those days. The question was getting Yes, sir, stronger love and devotion was something to cook. Why I have lived a never shown than that of the negro for his week on a quart of goobers and a little white folks, and, by gad, sir, it makes my corn bread and molasses. We made our blood boil even now when I hear of an oldcoffee out of parched wheat, oats and sweet time negro being fined or sent to prison for potatoes, and used 'long sweetning’- stealing, because they learned the habit lasses. Let me tell you the truth, neigh- during the war stealing for our bor, I believe that lots of our women folks folks, sir.”

-mo

women

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

H

66

AD the good William sojourned little or no wealth, having gone through"

around Washington about the pres- with the large sums paid him for his lands. ent time, especially while the work He lived and died in the little cottage on

on the new Union Station is in the Potomac, immediately adjoining the progress, he would have had a practical splendid mansion built by his son-in-law, experience in the art of "wiping out Gen. John P. Van Ness, who married the records” had he chosen to investigate from beautiful daughter Marcia. Writers claim the “records” the last resting places of that David Burnes tarried long at the wine some of the men who aided in making this cup

and kept in a mellowed condition under the most beautiful city in the world. frequent libations of good Scotch whiskey;

L'Enfant's grave was not difficult to find, that he spent the major portion of his time but this from the fact that the body of at Suter's Tavern in Georgetown and in this truly great genius was placed in the the public houses of Alexandria—then Bellgarden of a substantial family near Hyatts- haven. Although he was crusty and at ville, on the Baltimore & Ohio, where it times disagreeable, the “Burnes Mansion,” has remained all these years undisturbed as his home was called, was visited by many by the march of city expansion ; but had of the leading men of the day-Washington, the land been utilized as a sub-division the Jefferson, Lee, Hamilton, the Carrolls, the chances are that the remains would have Duddingtons, Aaron Burr and others. It been carted off to some other point for re- has been stated, too, that David Burnes

record” kept, as was the entertained Tom Moore in 1804, during his case in the removal of the remains of David visit to this country, and when he took occaBurnes, his wife and son.

Perhaps not ten sion to say and write so many unpleasant people in the district to-day can tell where things about us. If the old Scotchman did

graves are or from what place and entertain the poet at that time he must when the remains were removed. If have come back in ghost or spirit form, for “records” were to be depended upon to the old man had gone to his last sleep on furnish the information it would never be the 8th of May, 1800, four years prior to

Moore's visit. Patient and persistent in“Obstinate Old Davy,” as General vestigation authorizes the assertion that Washington was pleased to call the eccen- David Burnes was first interred in the tric old Scotchman because he did not wish Pierce Graveyard, now Lafayette square, to give up his immense land holdings as a or in another burying ground located near site for the Federal city, died possessed of the corner of H and Eleventh streets, and

interment and no

these

known.

« PreviousContinue »